Pleasanton’s Chan gets a chance on The Band’

We don’t know yet if it’s a story of a local boy making good, since the vote won’t be known until the end of the season. However, at least former Pleasanton resident Bryan Chan made the cut for “Making the Band,” the so-called ABC reality series that follows around young male hopefuls trying to make it into the band O-Town.

According to ABC, Chan who is of Chinese, Irish and Filipino descent didn’t quite follow the family hopes that he become a doctor or lawyer. Although he lives in Santa Barbara, the self-confessed “clean freak” will be rooming up with seven other guys in their new Orlando, Fla., home. At least there will be one guy who knows how to use the washing machine and vacuum cleaner. His parents weren’t available for comment.

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC CALLED YOUR FIRST CRUSH: Puberty finds Harry Potter. “Last time you met him, he was 13,” said author J.K. Rowling at a London press conference this week. “He’s 14 now, and he’s started to realize girls are quite interesting. I tend to think that if someone is sufficiently engaged in one of the books, he’s not going to be too disappointed if, at some point, his hero holds hands with a little girl.” While she won’t hit topics like hard drugs or teen pregnancies, she will address other real-life themes like death. “Yes, you see a death in book four,” she said.

Meanwhile, beyond the printed page, Warner Bros. announced Tuesday that Chris Columbus will direct “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Columbus, who directed the first two “Home Alone” movies, “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Stepmom,” will begin shooting this summer for release next year. Steven Spielberg had entertained the idea of helming a Potter movie, but opted instead for “A.I.,” a Stanley Kubrick sci-fi project.

SOMEONE GET SOME INTERVENTION HERE: Whitney Houston needs a specialist, and not just in public relations. Following the news that she was either fired or voluntarily withdrew from the Oscars ceremony, Jane magazine now is telling behind-the-interview details in its May issue.

Houston reportedly showed up four hours late and blamed an emergency dental visit to take care of a cracked tooth.

“When Whitney arrived, she was extremely unfocused, had trouble keeping her eyes open and kept singing and playing an imaginary piano on the table,” wrote the interviewer, Tony Romando. “I guess laughing gas can do that to you.”

Asked if she’d ever met a president or hung out with a junkie, she said “sure,” the experience was “just the same. The president gets off on the country. The junkie gets off on a couple of hits. They’re the same, both cut from the same cloth, they’re just men, you dig?” When asked about her gold-and-diamond bracelet, she told the magazine that after she signed her first contract with Arista records, “I asked this Jew guy on Diamond Row in New York” to make it.

Houston spokeswoman Nancy Seltzer did not immediately return a call from the Associated Press for comment, although she told the Daily News: “I’ve never heard Whitney use language like that. She doesn’t think in terms of race or religion.”

SINGAPOREANS HAVE ALL THE LUCK: Aside from chewing bubble gum on the subway, add this to things that Singaporeans can’t do: watch the Ally McBeal episode in which Calista Flockhart plays kissy-face with Lucy Liu. “The entire episode centers around alternative sexual explorations,” the Television Corporation of Singapore said. “As a responsible broadcaster, we are very careful to monitor and take action against overtly sexy or alternative themes.”

CLEARING THE MINES: Proceeds from Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana will be used in a $61 million international land-mine clearance project announced this week. Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer of Australia, who announced the project Tuesday, said as many as 70 million land mines with an average 50-year life span are lying around the world.

Diana had lobbied for initiatives to clear land mines.

AND YOU’RE SORRY YOU WERE IGNORED: Elle Macpherson apparently is “recovering” from a wounded psyche in Sydney, Australia, after her encounter with “Friends.” She describes her guest-starring turn on the show as “horrific,” but remains mum on rumors that the tightly-knit regulars shunned her. The former model might be scared off Hollywood for good, since she’s considering her original plans of going to law school. Then again, facing the likes of Matthew Perry might build up that vicious edge she’ll need.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail


Criticism leveled: At Julio Iglesias. Spain’s Ecologistas en Accion environmental group is protesting the singer’s planned heliport at the mansion he just bought for $7 million on the outskirts of Marbella, in an area the group considers environmentally sensitive.

Birthdays: Singer Frankie Laine (87), former CIA Director Richard Helms (87), actor Richard Dysart (71), actor John Astin (70), game show host Peter Marshall (70), actor-director Warren Beatty (63), rock musician Graeme Edge of The Moody Blues (59), rock musician Eric Clapton (55), actor Robbie Coltrane (50), actor Paul Reiser (43), rap artist MC Hammer (37), singer Tracy Chapman (36), actor Ian Ziering (36), singer Celine Dion (32), singer-musician Scott Moffatt of The Moffatts (17).